Circular Firing Squad

Posted On 25 Apr 2013
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Have you ever walked into a casino with visions of 9/6 Jacks or Better (9/6 JOB, ER 99.5439%) dancing in your head, only to find they’re MIA? This sort of disappointment has become commonplace of late. Instead of dropping a verbal landmine on the nearest uniformed employee, it’s best to take a deep breath and avoid the potential for a circular firing squad. Here are some considerations.



We’ve moved: The first thing to do is ask an informed staff member if your favorite machines have been moved to another location. Make sure you have the correct name and machine description. For example, a local casino had a bank of 8/5JOB Progressives in single-line quarters. If you described them that way, however, you would be viewed as a Martian. Instead, ask if they still have the quarter “Digging for Diamonds” and then indicate where they were located.


Calm discourse: If they’re truly gone, then keep an eye on their successors to determine if they’re getting any play. If not, ask management if there’s any chance of bringing them back for an encore. Sometimes you’ll be told that they were just worn out and had to be replaced due to lack of parts and so on. Politely let them know the current devices can have any pay schedule management wants. You can then write the pay schedule down accurately and check back. Even if they slow down the progressive meter on 8/5JOB, sort of a compromise with the casino, it’s better than any non-progressive 8/5JOB. If you’re not sure of the exact numbers, then you can copy the pay schedule for 8/5JOB from my book, “The Video Poker Edge”.


Possible alternatives: Sometimes you get the “no can do” response. If that happens, then check the casino’s inventory for the next best device. Again, you may have to write down the exact pay table found on the device and use either the tables in my book or WinPoker software to determine the game’s expected return. (This is called the ER and is a percentage figure, assuming computer- perfect play. 100% is even money, above 100% the player has an edge, under the house does. If the ER is close to 100% and your play is close to perfect, then you can factor in cash back for points, promo equity and other perks.)


Russian roulette:Plopping down at any video poker device and thinking they’re all pretty much the same, essentially based entirely on luck, is a huge mistake. Here’s why. If you select a 6/5JOB, that’s what replaced the “Digging for Diamonds” in my example, then your ER is 94.9961% with computer-perfect play instead of 97.2984% at reset for 8/5JOB. Beyond that, when the progressive royal gets to $2,000 (that’s 8,000 coins and a frequent occurrence on the bank in question) the ER is 99.5917%. You must keep in mind that the higher the ER the longer you’ll play on a given bankroll over time. That translates to more shots at infrequent hands like four-of-a-kind (occurs once every 423 hands in 8/5JOB) or a royal flush (occurs once every 40,170 hands in 8/5JOB). If you toss money into any device on the casino floor it’s just like playing Russian roulette with your gambling bankroll.


Final Thoughts:Imagine what’s going to happen when you’re part of a circular firing squad; really, it’s worse than Russian roulette. That’s what will figuratively occur if you let your emotions get the best of you and make a grandstand announcement that you will never darken the doorway of your local casino because they had the temerity to remove your video poker game. It’s true that many VP players stick to one-and-only-one game. If you’d prefer a casino over a movie then you’re going to need a realistic approach to the activity. Take a careful look at the options in your favorite casino, check out the competition and then decide on the best option. Arizona players are going to have to be more flexible in the future, just like those in other jurisdictions. The good news is that with the growing number of casinos we have many alternatives as well as a big tax advantage in that you can fade your loses against winnings on state tax returns. In other words, being a member of a circular firing squad is not only highly overrated, but truly unnecessary!


Linda Boyd – long-time table game player before turning to video poker, also writes for “Southern Gaming” and “Midwest Gaming and Travel” her book, “The Video Poker Edge”, includes free removable pay schedules and strategy cards for the most popular games. Look for her story in the 2012 Edition of “American Casino Guide” (ACG) and her You Tube video, also with ACG. The 2010 Second Edition of her book is available in both paperback and kindle. Available at bookstores, – Square One Publishers www.squareonepublishers.comor call 1-877-900-BOOK

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